(and, what to
do when you find a bat)
A PROBLEM BAT?
bats are extremely beneficial and help maintain balance in our delicate
ecosystem, there are times when bats become a problem or nuisance
to home or business owners. Bat colonies living in human structures
may sometimes create unpleasant odors. Bats living in buildings
do not cause structural damage nor do they chew on wires
or wood. Chemical toxicants should never be used to solve bat problems.
They are unnecessary and may create far worse problems since the
chemicals may be dangerous to humans and their use may cause poisoned
bats to fall where they die slowly and are more likely to come into
contact with children or pets.
If you have
found an individual bat or a couple of bats indoors or outside please
see "Found A Bat?" below, or check our 'Local
Help' Map for more information.
WHY DO BATS
CHOOSE TO LIVE IN HUMAN STRUCTURES?
Human expansion has resulted in loss of habitat, forcing bats
to look for alternative roosts in which to live and raise their
young. Roof voids, attics, vacant buildings and barns all provide
bats with warm, safe places to live.
AN EXCLUSION SPECIALIST?
Bat work is often dangerous. Because of their ability to fly,
bats usually choose to roost in areas of great height. Bats are
wild animals and should only be handled by trained bat professionals.
There are laws protecting bats, so use of pesticides and injuring
or killing bats could result in fines.
If you have
a colony of bats living in your building that you want to have excluded
by a specialist, you need to know the following:
- NEVER allow
exclusions during the bat maternity season, which is normally
from May 1 through August 30. (Bat exclusions should never be
done during this period because flightless babies may be occupying
the roost). Maternity seasons vary depending on location. If you
are unaware of the maternity season in your part of the country
or if you have an emergency situation, we may be able to provide
you with some alternative solutions.
- Choose a
reputable company with known experience that is licensed and insured.
(Ask for proof.)
- Ask for
references and check them.
- Call your
State Wildlife Department, local Chamber of Commerce and Better
Business Bureau to see if the company has had any violations or
complaints against them in the past.
- Always get
written proposals and guarantees. Guarantees should be good for
at least 3 years.
- Choose a
company that provides full service: safe removal, odor control
& cleanup, and permanent exclusion.
- NEVER use
a company that uses scare tactics (bats are filthy, carry disease,
etc.) or pressure sales.
- NEVER pay
for the work in advance. Reputable companies generally require
a small deposit.
- Choose a
company that uses safe, humane methods. NEVER hire a company
that uses traps of any kind, chemicals, pesticides, foams
or wire tubes.
exclusion by use of nets only. Exclusion nets are safe and acceptable
only if mesh size is 1/8" or smaller and netting is installed properly.
is not uncommon for people to encounter a bat that has taken residence
inside their house or fallen to the ground in their yard. With any
wild animal, caution should be taken and the bat should not be touched.
However, hysteria is not warranted since most bats are shy and retiring
creatures. Furthermore, most North American bats are extremely small
(one to three inches in length) and likely to be equally fearful
of a very large, agitated human! Slow movements and a calm demeanor
will keep the bat calm, and allow for a quicker return to the wild.
The first concern
many people have about bats is rabies. Like most mammals, bats can
contract rabies. However, according to Bat Conservation International,
less than one half of one percent of bats actually contract the
disease. (For more information, please see our Rabies
Page.) In addition, bats that do contract rabies usually go
off to die quietly. According to the Center for Disease Control
it is not necessary to test a bat for rabies unless it has had physical
contact with a human or a domestic pet. Because a bat's bite or
scratch is very small, it could actually go unnoticed, so bats that
are found in a room with a person who cannot reliably rule out physical
contact (for example a sleeping person, a child, a mentally disabled
person or an intoxicated person) will need to be tested. If you
are bitten by a bat, IMMEDIATELY wash the wound with soap and water.
If contact has occurred or is suspected call your personal physician
or local health department immediately.
contained in this text regarding health and safety precautions may
not be adequate for all individuals and situations. It is the reader's
responsibility to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
A BAT INDOORS
bat that is found indoors is most likely to be a crevice-dwelling
species. These bats are often lost youngsters or migrating bats
that do not know how to find their way outdoors. They
may be roosting somewhere in a small part of your home, most likely
up high, like a crawl space, attic or perhaps between the crawl
space roof. Should
you be lucky enough to have a bat stop by your house for a visit,
be kind to this honored guest. Follow these steps to help your guest
find it's way outdoors.
1. Close any doors you
can to contain the bat in a single room or space.
2. Open all the doors and windows as wide as you can in that room
3. Turn any OUTSIDE lights ON. This means porch lights etc.
4. Turn the lights IN THE ROOM OFF OR DOWN (dimmer switches are
great for this).
5. Stay in the room, sit down, relax, and watch the bat. If you
don't, you will not know if it actually left or has landed and is
resting somewhere. DO NOT TRY TO GUIDE THE BAT WITH A BROOM, TENNIS
RACKET, ETC. You do not need to cover your head, it does NOT want
to get in your hair.
6. The bat, if allowed to, will navigate it's way out using the
light OUTSIDE and the draft created by the open window/door. This
may take 20 minutes or so.
If it has landed,
it may be captured and released outside. It might be found behind
curtains/drapes, pictures or upholstered furniture, on hanging cloths,
or on house plants, to name a few places. Approach your visitor
very slowly and quietly. NEVER TOUCH THE BAT with your bare hands.
Gently place a small can or box over the bat, slide cardboard underneath,
and release your visitor out of doors. If
the bat does not fly away, or attempts to fly but seems unable to,
it is likely that it has an injury or illness. It may be a disoriented
juvenile, or it may be dehydrated or starved from being trapped
indoors. If this is the case, keep the bat in a closed box or container
(never a jar) and put it in a safe place that is free of children,
pets, fire ants and other hazards.
It is not safe
to attempt to care for a bat on your own - bats should only be cared
for by trained, vaccinated individuals. Furthermore, in order to
survive, bats in this condition may need injections of electrolytes
in addition to specialized food and caging.
Call a local wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. If you
need help locating a wildlife rehabilitator or bat care giver in
your area, go to our Bat Assistance
In order to prevent
bats from getting into your living space, make sure you seal cracks,
no matter how small, in the ceilings and walls. The most common
entry point is a space between where a wall and the ceiling meet.
Also seal along the sides of beams and corners where moldings meet.
Check the chimney and the sides where the chimney meets the wall,
as well as where the chimney comes through the ceiling. Sealing
these cracks and any others you can find will help prevent the bats
from getting confused and ending up in your living space.
When we say bats are getting confused, the light from your living
space (a night light, TV set, reading or other light) is casting
a beam of light into where the bats are roosting, via a crack. The
bats see that beam of light and think it is the way to go outside,
so they follow it and end up flying in your living space.
ON A PORCH
This is a night roost
where you may see bats or droppings on the outside of the building
and insect body parts below the roost. This is a temporary resting
place for bats while they eat and digest their food. To deter (if
you must) a bat from roosting here, the area must be fitted with
smooth, tight-fitting plastic, such as Plexiglas or other hard plastic,
something the bats cannot crawl under or cling to.
A BAT OUTDOORS
bats have beautiful fur in shades of reds, yellows and tans (like
dried leaves), or they have multicolored fur that is frosted with
white. These bats are frequently found on the ground in the early
summer when mothers are moving their young, or when they become
grounded following bird attacks or storms. Occasionally, these bats
panic and defend themselves when humans approach by spreading their
wings in mock-attack and making loud hissing or clicking noises.
Follow the steps given below to rescue a tree-roosting bat. If you
feel unequipped to move the bat, proceed to step five.
Note: If the bat is a gray or brown color, it is probably a crevice-dwelling
species. Crevice-dwelling bats found out of doors and grounded will
need to be examined and cared for by a wildlife rehabilitator. Place
the bat into a container using the method described in "A Bat
Indoors" and proceed to step five.
sure the bat is safe from predators. Have someone watch the
bat so it is safe from domestic pets, fire ants and birds. If
the bat remains quiet and still, proceed to step 2. If the bat
panics as described above, proceed to step 5.
touch a small tree branch (two or three feet in length) to the
bats feet. This should initiate a grab reflex, and the animal
will frequently grip the branch with its toes. When you lift the
branch you can inspect the bat (or mother bat with babies) for
any injuries. If the infants are clinging to the mother and there
are no apparent injuries, proceed with step 3. If injuries are
detected, proceed to step 5.
move the bats into the branches of a nearby tree. This must
be done very carefully. A sudden move may cause a mother bat to
fly off and abandon her young. Using a ladder, gently secure the
branch into a tree in a spot where foliage and leaves conceal
the bats, at a height of six or more feet from the ground, with
a clearing below to enable the bat to take flight. Proceed to
the area. Check the area the following morning. If the bat
has remained in the same position overnight it may have an undetected
injury or illness. If the mother bat is gone but her babies remain,
the babies may have been abandoned. In either case, proceed to
a local wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. If you need
help locating a wildlife rehabilitator or bat worker in your area,
go to our Bat Assistance
CAUGHT BY DOG OR CAT
Follow the previous
instructions about how to safely capture a bat and transport the
bat as soon as possible to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation organization
in your area. Be prepared to tell them that the bat was dog/cat
caught and whether or not the animal is vaccinated against rabies.